Even without Steve Jobs, Apple seems to manufacture new product categories with ease– PC, Mac, iPod, iTunes Music Store, iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPods– and to set the standard for competitors to follow.
What happened with iPad? Sales were strong, reached a peak in a few years, then began a three year sales free fall until the most recent quarter. Thanks to a very low priced iPad and new iPad Pro models, iPad sales improved.
Instead of discarding the iPad as a footnote in Apple and tech history, Apple doubled down on iPad.
Even at its lowest point, iPad sales were double the unit sales of the Mac which has been growing in popularity in recent years. But iPad’s average selling price was, is, and remains far less than a Mac.
Despite the continuing gains in Apple’s Services division’s revenue and profits, Apple remains a hardware company. The more devices it sells, the more Services grow, and along with it Apple’s financial fortunes.
The entry-level 9.7-inch iPad starts at $329 and is a better value than any iPad of the past; better screen, better storage, better CPU, runs the latest iOS (and will for four or five years), but, importantly, continues to add revenue and profits to Services as customers buy more apps.
There are many theories why iPad sales fell for three years. The growing trend toward larger screens on smartphones is one. Thinner, lighter, and more powerful Mac notebooks is another. So are device fatigue and iPad’s product life cycle. Apple’s neglected the iPad’s need for hardware improvements and price competitiveness is another.
Those issues seem to have been dissolved in 2017. iPad starts at $329 which makes it competitive with cheap Windows tablets and Chromebooks. iPad Pro is more powerful, more capable, and has more available applications than most Windows-based PC notebooks.
Indeed, newer iPad models have some technologies not found in iPhone. The True Tone display, ProMotion display technology, and the Smart Connector. Apple’s doubling down on the iPad appears beneficial for customers who find Windows PC notebooks too daunting and cumbersome, while an iPad can do all they require and more.
The iPad Pro has sufficient processor speed to compete against most of the Windows PC notebooks on the market, and all iPad sales combined remain double the unit sales of the entire Mac line (made up of 80-percent notebooks).
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs heralded the iPad as the beginning of the post-PC era. He was close. Actually, it’s mobile devices in the iPhone model that created the post-PC era. iPad merely plays a role.